`Catch' of the `match'

AFTER Rohan who? Rahul, of course — as at once Vijeta's catch and match.

AFTER Rohan who? Rahul, of course — as at once Vijeta's catch and match. `After' Rahul who? Not Raveena any longer! In what is best described as `rebound upon rebound', with a vengeance is Raveena Tandon back (on the May `Filmfare' cover) with Akshay Kumar! No "fury like a woman scorn'd''! Time Bollywood emulated Hollywood in coming up with its own update edition of `Who's Whose?' Small wonder Raveena's own production, `Stumped', went into cold storage. With not one square-leg umpire (in her vicious circle industry) prepared to lift the bails and put them back (in Raveena film-release place). No promos of the film on TV meant no more Rahul grist to the Raveena mill. Ravs' only consolation — Akshay Kumar is a keen cricket fan. One who genuinely regretted trying a bit of martial arts aggro on our Dev Devil in `Kapil Dil Se'. Incidentally, who should be interviewed by Barkha Dutt (on `24 x 7' the other night) but Saareeka. The Saareeka who once chased Kapil (before the Romi rescue) to the end of the Haryana earth. Kapil, for all his muscular power, just could not shake off Saareeka.

Rahul Dravid with his captain Sourav Ganguly ... no runaway marriage for the deputy. — Pic. N. SRIDHARAN-

Here is where Rahul showed gumption by promptly putting Raveena in her silver screen place.

You need to be a Tiger Pataudi to settle cosily with a Sharmila Tagore after being royally rebuffed by Saira Banu. A Saira head over high heels in love with Superstar Superham Rajendra Kumar. Rahul was being eminently sensible in concluding that Cine Glamour and Crick Amour, never the twain can meet — in his conservative Bangalore home. After all, Rahul's Nagpuritan in-laws were not one bit pleased about the media attention their dainty dot got overnight. What the very private Pendharkar family must comprehend is that Vijeta, once wedded to Rahul, becomes the Celeb's Celeb.

`Miya Biwi raazi to kya karega paparazzi?' The paparazzi descending upon Vijeta's Nagpur abode might have come as a culture shock to the Pendharkars. Yet one would have expected someone so sophisticated of mind as Wing-Commander Pendharkar to be adept at clipping the media's wings. For what did the family expect when the bride is a lady so photogenic as Vijeta? Always a man of taste was our Rahul. As good a judge of women as of men. In fact, Dada's deputy never let Raveena cross his private path the way his captain permitted Naghma to call the media shots through the turbulent March 2001 India-Australia series. A wife of Vijeta vintage always was on the Rahul visiting cards. In fact, now that Rahul's begin hitting sixes, well might admirers turn to Vijeta and, looking at her, acclaim: "What a smasher!''

Cricketers are no less than movie stars today. So, for personality oriented TV, the Vijeta-Rahul wedding was naturally the happening of the season. Here a full decade in films left Raveena trailing. Where Vijeta became the `now' thing for TV, Instant TV. For her non-screen part, Vijeta had better start getting used to comely camera attention wherever she goes. After all, hasn't Vijeta unerringly hooked Rahul for all his feminine pull? How many tender hearts broke as Rahul announced his non-Aussie `intent' to `intimidate' no young lady any more.

``No more playing the field!'' as far as Vijeta's orbits go. Go far, very far, with Rahul on tour must Vijeta. For how Rahul rotates the strike is now her responsibility. Dilip Vengsarkar once told me that he really got more aggressive, as a shot-player, only after he wed the beauteous Manali. All India would be grateful to Vijeta if she had the same positive shots-enriching effect on Rahul. How to husband his batting resources Rahul already knows. Vijeta should take it upon herself now to expand Rahul's area of striking influence. Not mincing words in telling Rahul that, for a man of his international standing, he should be tackling wrist spin better. Vijeta should affirm she would be disappointed, as a crick-centric wife, if Rahul, as the hub of her life, continued to play Collins Obuya the way he once groped against the wrist spin of Upul Chandana.

As Rahul in a spin discovers that marriage has a `Vijetang' all its own, am I on the ball in recording that DD, in its own old-maidish way, was the first to turn the spotlight on a superstar cricketer caught betwixt and between two movie lovelies? DD-recall how Sandeep Patil ended up coaching neither Poonam Dhillon nor Debashree Roy on the sets of `Kabhi Ajnabi Thhe'. Where Sandeep tarried far too long about being a `Debashreeman', Miss Roy went on to become a captive star sought by Bengal's topmost cineaste directors. While Poonam, right now, is making telewaves as the heartbeat of NDTV-India's Abhigyan Prakash. Wasn't it Kapil Dev who remarked, as he saw the Patil Boy act dashed awkward in `Kabhi Ajnabi Thhe', that Sandeep was as slow in going for Debashree-Poonam as he was in going for the high ball in the field? Two such prize catches missed meant Sandeep ending up coaching the non-romantic Kenya by `remote' control. Rahul, by contrast, belongs to a generation of performers blending tradition at Bangalore home with modernity in cricketing office. It always therefore was likely that Rahul would plump for a slim homely beauty in Vijeta.

Any confusion in Rahul's mind cleared the moment he discarded those big Raveena gloves tending to leave him `Stumped' for an appealing enough answer. Clearly Rahul has no use for the Sunny philosophy: "Wicket-keepers make good lovers!'' As Rahul moved back to first slip, clearer headed, Vijeta was so much easier to sight and hold. No holds barred from hereon, Rahul.